18 Mistakes Businesses Make on Twitter

by Ken Mueller on July 13, 2011 · 18 comments

white 15 18 Mistakes Businesses Make on TwitterSend to Kindle
300px Mistake.svg 18 Mistakes Businesses Make on Twitter

Image via Wikipedia

Last year I blogged about 10 Mistakes Businesses Make on Facebook, so I thought I’d take the time to create a similar list regarding business use of Twitter. Some of these will sound very familiar to the previous list, but Twitter is a different platform with different uses and different “rules”. Read this list and analyze your own approach to Twitter. Are you committing any of these errors, or do you know someone who is?

1. Creating an account and not using it – Twitter is littered with dead accounts. Usually what happens is a business creates an account, starts following people to get followers, then can’t keep up with a pace that is needed and they give up too soon. Often they expect overnight results, but that won’t happen. Don’t expect huge results and major ROI quickly. Twitter is a slow, organic growth platform in most cases.

2. Not engaging – Twitter is a conversation. If all you do is talk, but not talk to anyone, you’re boring. Reach out and start conversations with others. Don’t just stand up and shout out into the air.

3. Not replying to @mentions – It’s not just about engaging others actively, but also responding to others when they @mention you. If someone speaks to you, and you don’t respond, they will assume you aren’t there, don’t care, have automated your Twitter, or all of the above. When that happens, you can bet they won’t interested in what you have to say when you tweet.

4. Not building an audience – Your Twitter following doesn’t just grow. This isn’t an “if you build it they will come” proposition. You need to work to build your following, and that usually starts by you regularly, and strategically, following others and then engaging them.

5. Not tweeting enough – I’m going to step out on a limb and say there really is no such thing as tweeting too much. But not tweeting enough can be a real problem. Relationships are built on interaction. Rationing yourself to a certain number of tweets per day/week is a big mistake. Do you ration how often you interact with people in person? Oh, and if you’re tempted to outsource your tweeting to a Social Media consultant, there’s a good chance this will happen.

6.Not following anyone – There is no rule that says you have to follow everyone who follows you, but you do need to consistently follow others. If you have a gazillion followers and don’t follow anyone back, that means all you care about is what you have to say, and don’t give a rip about anyone else. Sorry, but it’s not all about you.

7. Not retweeting/sharing – Twitter works best when you tweet out a nice variety of content. That includes retweeting or sharing the content of others that you think your followers might be interested in. This is just one way of being a good citizen of the Twitterverse. Plus, if you regularly share the work of others, they will be more likely to share or retweet your content.

8. Auto DMs – When I follow someone and then receive an auto DM thanking me, I’m turned off. Mostly because the auto DMs clearly aren’t personalized for me. They often run along the lines of “Hey, I look forward to engaging with you. Make sure you check out my new ebook on such and such at this link!” It’s similar to meeting a guy for the first time and, before you even get to know him, he’s got his business card in your face. Do you wanna be that guy?

9. Heavy handed sales – There is a place for some sales content on Twitter, but I see a lot of folks who do nothing but sell. It’s clear that they aren’t on Twitter for relationships. They don’t view you as a person; you are only a potential customer. The problem with that view is that if you don’t move from potential customer to real customer, they no longer have any interest in you. Mercenary relationships don’t work.

10. Not providing relevant content – We could debate about this for a long time as we all have different ideas about how to define “relevant” content. And the answer will be different for all of us, based on who we are, what we do, and our intended audience. But if all you do is link to non-compelling content, you’ll be ignored.

11. Retweeting retweets of themselves – These are people who break their arms patting themselves on the back. I especially see this a lot within the marketing community. @MarketingGalA tweets that she won an award. @MarketingGuyB retweets her and appends it with a congratulations. @MarketingGalA retweets @MarketingGuyB’s retweet as if to say, “Hey, this guy congratulated me for winning an award, this makes me special!”. The real problem with this is that the people who are guilty of this seem to do it all the time. Get over yourself.

12. Incomplete profile – One of the first things you need to do before you really start using Twitter is to make sure you have a complete profile. This means having a proper image, as well as a nice description of who you are and what you do. This should also include your location. People like to have some sort of context and want to know who’s on the other side of your account.

13. Not publicizing that you’re on Twitter – You can have the best Twitter profile and be great at engaging, but you need to find ways to let your customers know you are on Twitter. This includes online methods such as your email, website, and Facebook page. This also includes using various offline methods that inform your customers when they are actually in your business.

14. Not integrating – Twitter doesn’t exist in a vacuum. You might want to include a Twitter widget on your website, or make sure that your blog gets pushed out to your Twitter followers automatically. There are many different ways that you can integrate Twitter with your other online properties.

15. One dimensional presence – Don’t just tweet the same sorts of things. None of us is one dimensional. We have a wide variety of interests, as do our followers. Play into those. Some people do nothing but spit out inspirational quotes. If that’s all you do, people will get bored quickly. Remember, Twitter is real life. Act on Twitter the way you would in a face to face setting.

16. Only automating via Facebook or only scheduling – An easy way for businesses to manage a Social Media presence is for them to link their Facebook updates to Twitter. I have no problem with this unless this is all you do. Remember, the name of the game is engagement. More often than not, businesses that do nothing but post the same content on both platforms, will end up only monitoring one of them, and that’s usually Facebook. If you aren’t monitoring Twitter, you can’t respond to people who might try to engage with you. Plus you won’t be engaging others proactively. If you do link Facebook and Twitter, make sure you are also spending time on Twitter alone, engaging, replying, and offering other content.

17. Having a protected account – This one makes no sense and drives me bonkers. I have no problem with individuals protecting their account, but if you are a business, your goal is to build up a nice following. By protecting your tweets you are adding an extra hurdle for people when they want to follow you. They have to request, and you have to approve. Quite frankly, when I see a business do this, I don’t even want to follow them.

18. Tweeting before thinking – We’ve all heard the stories about Kenneth Cole, the Red Cross, and a lot of the other companies that screwed up when they tweeted something they thought was clever (Entenmanns), or when someone posted to the wrong account (Chrysler). And just as important as thinking before tweeting is knowing how to apologize properly when you have made a mistake.

Need more help? Check out 14 Ways Every Business Should be Using Twitter, 13 Useful Twitter Tips for Small Business, and 8 Tips and a Few Tools for Small Business Twitter Use.

What are some other mistakes that you see businesses making on Twitter on a regular basis. Are there any particular practices that annoy you or get your goat?

 18 Mistakes Businesses Make on Twitter
Buffer
15 comments
csamantha
csamantha

Great post! these are such common mistakes, what works for me is itweetlive which is a free twitter tool that helps you avoid making these mistakes especially the ones mentioned in points 2-5 but rather accomplish the opposite. You can target the relevant audience for you and personally engage with them all in less time. You can also personally address your RT's and mentions faster and build lasting relationships as well as share your content on a large scale.

rjackson
rjackson

Nice post! I actually thought I read somewhere that #11 was suppose to be a good strategy move to get more exposure. Thanks for sharing!

FitOldDog
FitOldDog

Excellent advice, and very much appreciated. Duly forwarded to selected contacts on LinkedIn and Fb. Thanks again. -k @FitOldDog (neophyte blogger).

DavidChevalier
DavidChevalier

I have made many if not all of these mistakes - hate to admit to it - because of great content like this I keep getting better and better at it. Thanks Ken

donnatalarico
donnatalarico

Ooops. I think I may be guilty of #11 a few times.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

This goes along with 18 so I'll name it 18A: Don't drink and tweet.

aidemsolutions
aidemsolutions

Great post Ken ! When is your book coming out ? :) On Twitter I find myself and my business doing a lot of observation.... I really enjoy staying in the loop with video equipment trends and what is working with internet video. Sometimes it can be challenging to know what to say to engage conversation online, people who do that well definitely gain followers and stay more involved on Twitter. I could not agree more with the annoyance of auto DMs and people that are always trying to sell.... one other thing that I find annoying is un-authentic spoof accounts. Sometimes I try to find someone on twitter, and there are 3 or 4 accounts for that person..... if they are big enough, they have an "official" or certified logo, but people that create the duplicate accounts just add to the clutter... or, if someone is going to make a knockoff account, make it obvious.... the BPoilPR account did a great job at this.....

gwenm4
gwenm4

Hi Ken! Great tips here. Was happy to see I'm not alone in my distaste for #8. I'm with you on this one. I see the auto-DM all the time -- even with social media professionals (who should know better!) I'm on Twitter to build relationships, learn, share--and if I get an auto-DM after I follow someone, I will go right back in and unfollow. I don't want to be just your 4000th follower. I get that we can't engage with everyone all the time, but be authentic will ya? Thanks for sharing these great tips!

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@donnatalarico That's ok. We're all guilty of some of them, and that might be the least of the issues. The people I'm talking about do it all the time, almost as if they do more of that than normal tweeting.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@ginidietrich I have to disagree. There are few folks who I try to get to drink and tweet. Or at least drink and DM me. I find it entertaining. I'd actually put you on that list. So go for it!

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@aidemsolutions thanks for your comment, Derek. Yes, the more you engage, the more credible you become, and people will WANT to follow you.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@gwenm4 Thanks, Gwen. I think a lot of us hate that one, but it's true, it seems the SM professionals are just as guilty of this, if nor moreso, than others.

Trackbacks

  1. […] I’m sure they were disappointed when they discovered that their search brought them to 18 Mistakes Businesses Make on Twitter. Because not getting any replies is NOT a mistake. It’s a calculated business […]

  2. […] I’m certain they were unhappy when they detected that their hunt brought them to 18 Mistakes Businesses Make on Twitter. Because not removing any replies is NOT a mistake. It’s a distributed business […]

  3. […] I’m sure they were disappointed when they discovered that their search brought them to 18 Mistakes Businesses Make on Twitter. Because not getting any replies is NOT a mistake. It’s a calculated business […]

Previous post:

Next post: